BATTLE FOR LANG’ATA

By Gabriel Oguda

At the time the Lang’ata Primary School land was being grabbed, and the media spotlight was being shone on William Ruto, there was one line of questioning that was not conclusively pursued; Why was William Ruto so much interested in expanding his political and business influence in Lang’ata, of the 17 constituencies in Nairobi? It might have looked like a naive line of inquiry, then, but as Kenyans would later realize, the choice of Lang’ata was was not a coincidence at all.

Lang’ata constituency is synonymous with Raila Odinga. After William Ruto had knocked off the Moi dynasty in the Rift Valley, the antagonistic son of Kamagut wanted to demolish the only stumbling block to his quest for the presidency in 2022. Raila Odinga might not have made it to the highest office in the land, but William Ruto knows that if he is going to have a slight chance of being president he has to secure the capital city of Kenya, as a matter of priority.

Of the 17 Members of Parliament from Nairobi County, none is allied to the William Ruto URP wing of the Jubilee Coalition, and he is keen to make immediate amends. One thing about William Ruto is that he is a big game hunter. He doesn’t waste his arrow-heads on small time squirrels; and no game, in Kenyan politics right now, is bigger than Raila Odinga. William Ruto, therefore salivated at the prospect of demolishing Raila Odinga’s political empire right from where he made his name from.

The stakes are higher in Lang’ata than in any of the 17 constituencies in Nairobi. It is in Lang’ata constituency that his controversial four-star hotel sits. William Ruto fears, and rightly so, that if the next Lang’ata MP is not his sidekick, and the discussions involving the controversial acquisition of that hotel is revived – as the Grand Regency one years before – he would be staring at a monumental loss of a business empire he has barely enjoyed its fortunes.

He wants a favorable guy who’ll be punching in his corner when the heat is on and historical injustices are being discussed in parliament. He’s willing to pay top-dollar to protect his wealth. It is also in Lang’ata that his official residence, and his Nairobi home, both in Karen, are. William Ruto is so desperate to win Lang’ata he might as well step down this August and vie as MP there.

When the Lang’ata Primary School land was being repossessed by hyenas who were neither private nor developers, the people of Lang’ata asked where their Member of Parliament was, arguing that had Raila Odinga still been their MP, William Ruto would never have attempted to extend his sticky fingers anywhere near Raila Odinga’s political turf. If you were to parade all the Members of Parliament and award a million shillings to the Kenyan who’d pick out Joash Olum from the lineup, on their first attempt, there is a 9 in 10 chance you’ll return home with your money safely in your pocket. Nairobi County has 17 MPs, and Joash Olum is the worst of the lot, there is an active on-line petition, by residents of Lang’ata constituency, to recall him. If ghost-workers in Kenya had a face, their poster boy would be Joash Olum.

And so, when the Lang’ata Primary School land was hot in the press and Joash Olum could not show up to do his job, a Lang’ata constituency action group, who have over the years taken upon themselves to stand up for the rights of the residents in there, came up with a comprehensive list of likely candidates who had the passion and commitment to take up the powers-that-be.

They were not going to wait for 2017 to make their point in the ballot, they had decided to approach a replacement to work with long before the election bell was sounded. The first name on that thinly-spread list was Oguwa Bernard Adhiambo, affectionately known in Lang’ata as Adhiambo Adhiambo.

You all know Adhiambo Adhiambo. Of the SONU Secretary Generals between 2003 and 2007, when I was a UoN undergrad, Adhiambo Adhiambo was the most powerful and highly calculative. BAA is an autocrat’s worst nightmare, when in 2004 he led a group of UoN students clamoring for better living conditions and a stop to the discussions on increase in tuition fees, Adhiambo Adhiambo was suspended together with others of his like-mind, he would later win his appeal at the Senate coming back to the university and sweeping the board in the 2006 elections.

He became overwhelmingly popular the same year he was elected Chair of the Kenyan National Association of University Students, KENASU. When that Lang’ata lobby group went to BAA to check up on him and ask whether he could consider leading their line against the encroachment of state plunderers in Lang’ata, BAA, the ever-calculative BAA, told them that the message had arrived and he would be back with a response.

Adhiambo Adhiambo is now back with a response, and it’s music to the ears of the people of Lang’ata who asked him to step up from the bench and be their defensive shield in parliament. If there was to be a political crossbreed of Jerry Rawlings and Julius Nyerere, it would be Adhiambo Adhiambo – you have never seen a more tactful schemer and a ground mobilizer than this.

If politics and brains go together, BAA is still your man, for he has a Masters Degree in Project Planning & Management no one would be better qualified to use your CDF well. BAA is so passionate about education he is currently pursuing his PhD, for which he has decided to cool off from as he intends to make Lang’ata Great Again. The mountain of political dust that has been blown in Lang’ata since BAA announced his return to politics, 10 years after ECK had conspired to rig him out of the Laini Saba Ward race, is all for everyone to see. As Milton Freedman famously remarked in one of his best-sellers, that “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.”

It is incumbent upon the people of Lang’ata not to put the leadership of that constituency in the hands of land harvesters, for in 5 years it will be a miracle if you’ll have public utilities remaining for your children and children’s children.

You know what to do.

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